On November 15, 2023, the US Department of the Treasury’s Office Foreign Assets Control designated Costa Rican narcotics trafficker Gilbert Hernan de Los Angeles Bell Fernandez (“Bell”), also known as “Macho Coca”, who has allegedly played a significant role in transforming Costa Rica into a major narcotics transit hub. According to OFAC, this action was taken in support of President Biden’s National Drug Control Strategy, and in cooperation with the Costa Rican government. Bell, who was arrested by Costa Rican authorities in 2015, is allegedly known for moving large quantities of cocaine and for being one of the most violent narcotics traffickers in Limón. According to Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian Nelson, Bell’s designation demonstrates the shared commitment by the US and Costa Rica to address the surge in violent crime in Costa Rica that is linked to narcotics trafficking. Nelson also stated that the US will continue to partner with the Costa Rican government and other regional authorities to combat illicit narcotics facilitation networks.
Bell was designated pursuant to Executive Order 14059, which targets those who engage in activities or transactions that contribute to the international proliferation of illicit drugs or their means of production. As a result of this designation, all property and interests in property of the designee within the United States or within the possession or control of a US person are blocked, and US persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions involving the designated persons unless authorized by OFAC. US persons may also face civil or criminal penalties for violating EO 14059.